The state Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a decision that found in favor of Bullis Charter School in its quest to get "reasonably equivalent" facilities from the Los Altos School District.
In denying a request to review the Oct. 27, 2011 decision of Sixth District Court of Appeal, the state's highest court upheld the finding that the Los Altos School District (LASD) was short-changing Bullis (BCS) in the facilities it offers the school. That court's finding that LASD must come into compliance now must be applied.
“With this facilities decision final, it is our desire to work in partnership with the District to ensure that all students are treated fairly," said Ken Moore, president of the BCS board, in a written statement.
Prop. 39 was passed by voters in 2000. It provides that charter schools are offered facilities with “conditions reasonably equivalent” to what students would receive if they were attending other public schools in the district, and that facilities must be shared with all students of the district.
Bullis' prevailing in this matter will have impact across the state, Moore said. All districts will likely be eyeing the Sixth District's decision as they consider their preliminary facilities offers to charter schools, which must be made at the end of the month.
“This decision will bolster our statewide efforts to fulfill the promise of Proposition 39,” said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.
"We appreciate Bullis’ efforts to advance the cause.”
The October appeals court ruling that now stands noted that when measuring the space at district-run schools, LASD excluded from consideration more than a million square feet, collectively, from five schools used as comparison schools. Such measurements are needed to do an adequate analysis in order make "a complete and fair" facilities offer, the appeals court found in October.
In asking the state Supreme Court to review the case, the school board took issue with the appeals court ruling, arguing that the appeals court had taken away discretion of local officials to balance the needs of all public school students, and had reduced the facilities offer to a mechanical process of measurements and mathematical formula that doesn't take into account other considerations.
This appears to bring to an end the appeal by the Los Altos School Board, which had hoped to prevail at the Supreme Court level. The only court left is the U.S. Supreme Court.
The next move, in any case, is in the hands of the school district.
The decision comes at a time when charter schools and host school districts across the state are in negotiations for space allocations. Districts, by law, must make their preliminary offer to charter schools at the end of the month.
"Hopefully, Moore said, the Supreme Court ruling will inform the preliminary offer.
Moore acknowledged there had been a lot of anxiety in the schools community because many parents feared that Gardner Bullis School campus would be offered to BCS.
While BCS has always described Gardner Bullis School as its preference when making its annual request for facilities, it has stated that any school on a 10-acre site that feeds into Los Altos High School would be an acceptable site, Moore said.
"This is truly the district's decision how they are going to comply with this," Moore added. "There are other options at their disposal."